Another month has passed in the year 2019 and with it came my usual bimonthly identity crises. Unlike my paychecks though, their due dates are grossly inconsistent and always unwelcome. Part of me is really hoping that we only get a limited amount of “episodes” so that by the time I turn 30, I will have already filled out that category of my life that I won’t have anymore identity crises to spare in the future.
So what inspired this month’s episode? Writing–– the one thing I used to love the most. Ironically. A month ago I realized that I hadn’t written for recreational purposes in such a long time. I’d been so consumed with my work–– critical essays, analyses, peer- reviews, book reviews, freelance articles–– that I hadn’t written any new poetry or stories or unqualified reflections on life. & whenever I sat down and made the time to do so, I felt nothing. No inspiration to write, no idea what even to write about. I actually felt like I didn’t even know how to write anymore, which was the oddest thing in the world because this year and the year previous has been the most I’ve written in my whole “career.” Still I felt like I was backsliding. Like I plateaued in my writing. I had to ask myself why this was and I realized that I had stopped writing for fun because the one thing I loved the most turned into a chore. It turned into something that I had to do to get an A or to get paid and when I didn’t have to do it to achieve a goal, I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. I started to resent writing.
Growing up, I’d constantly be told the same iteration of this phrase: “Find what you love and figure out how to make a profit/career out of it.” At the time that seemed like sound advice. Now? I’m so surrounded by what I love that I am suffocated by it. For a time, I felt like I had failed because if what I loved wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, what do I do then? Who will I be or become now? AND THAT’S when I told myself to stop being so dramatic and chill out. To stop and think.
I started to realize that my career and my passion don’t have to be directly connected. Sure, they can coincide, but they don’t have to be one in the same. And with that came a bunch of other realizations.
I’m not saying I’m giving up on writing. I’m not saying I no longer want to work for the New York Review of Books or write my own novel one day. I’m not saying that death by exegesis or critical analyses on existentialism will stop me from pursuing my PhD. All I’m saying is that 22 is way too young to be forcing myself into a career path or stagnant perception of identity when both are journeys and not destinations. BARF. Cheesy. I know. 22 is also a really young age and to be arrogant enough to assume that I should have it all figured out by now is really unrealistic and unhealthy.
I know that this post is all over the place. To be honest, I didn’t even want to write it, but I forced myself to because the other thing I realized–– and stick with me here because this is even cringier than the last paragraph–– is that my love for writing is a lot like a relationship.
Ya’ll know old couples are constantly saying that they weren’t always in love? That there were times they wanted to get a divorce or kill their partner or feel as if they didn’t even recognize the person they fell in love with. Well, this is a lot like that. Writing and I have left our honeymoon phase. We’re past all that infatuation and at that crucial juncture between staying together and strengthening our bond or going our separate ways and only meeting once in a while when I’ll have e-mails to my boss. What I’m really getting to is that I’m taking that step into a life long “partnership.” Because writing is a part of me. It has opened so many doors, helped me close some too; and it’s a part of my life that I never want to lose even if I may resent it at this moment. So. I’m forcing myself to write, to not give up. & Maybe I won’t rediscover my passion tomorrow or next week or even next month, but I’m confident that I will again. & You know? For now, at 22 with (hopefully) half a century left to live, that’s good enough for me.